Four last-minute changes to my Oscar predictions (gulp!)

There’s an unspoken rule when predicting awards shows: If you’ve stuck with the same prediction for the entire season, it’s never a good idea to change your mind at the last minute or you risk the possibility of having a serious case of Regret (with a capital R).

Well, rules are meant to be broken.

In the past few days, I’ve changed four of my 24 Oscar predictions — two of which were a little crazy to begin with. It’s all in the interest of bettering my final Oscar score and claiming victory amongst my fellow Gold Derby Editors. The gloves are about to come off!

Gold Derby’s Oscar predictions center has been around for the past two Oscars and I’ve come in second amongst our Editors both times. Second place is good… but not good enough. This year, I want to take down each and every one of my cohorts and show them who’s really the best Oscar predictor in town.

In 2011 I scored 71% correct (behind only David Schnelwar with 75%), and last year I increased my personal record to 80% (behind only Chris Beachum with 84%). Find out how you scored at the Oscars or any past awards show by clicking on the “Leaderboards” link on the top-left of each page.

The key to getting the best score is knowing when to follow the herd (like with “Argo” and Daniel Day-Lewis last year) and knowing when to go off on your own by predicting someone slightly more under-the-radar (as with Christoph Waltz in 2012 and Meryl Streep in 2011).

Below, a list of my current predictions and explanations as to why I switched (and hopefully not a list of my future regrets):

Current prediction: Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club“)
Former prediction: Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street“)
Why the change? I will admit, I was [briefly] swayed by Tom O’Neil‘s bold piece announcing that DiCaprio “will pounce as the Wolf of Oscar night.” But after reality set in, DiCaprio potentially winning over McConaughey seemed more like a fanboy’s dream and less of an Oscar reality. Don’t forget, DiCaprio’s film was controversial while McConaughey’s was almost universally praised. But the thing that really sent me back to Team McConaughey was when Daniel Montgomery reminded us that he starred in HBO’s “True Detective” during Oscar voting. The prestige of that production should push McConaughey over the edge… right?

Current prediction:American Hustle
Former prediction:Her
Why the change? This is the closest race at Gold Derby by a longshot, with 15 Experts predicting “American Hustle” and 15 Experts going with “Her.” After winning at the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards, I jumped onto the “Her” bandwagon, only to switch back to “American Hustle” a few days ago. Look, David O. Russell is an academy favorite, earning five Oscar nominations over the past four years, including three this year. He’s probably going to lose Best Picture to “12 Years a Slave” or “Gravity” and he’s definitely going to lose Best Director to Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity“), so that leaves Best Original Screenplay as the only place on the ballot for voters to reward Russell with his very first Oscar. Of course, ironically, Spike Jonze is also up for a trio of awards this year for producing “Her,” writing its screenplay and co-writing “The Moon Song” with Karen O, so the exact same reasoning could be applied to him as well. (Oh no, am I regretting this change already?)

Current prediction:20 Feet from Stardom
Former prediction:The Square
Why the change? Because I came to realize that I was picking “The Square” to win simply because it was my favorite. And since my favorites rarely ever win Oscars, why would that suddenly change this year? Looking at this close race objectively, we have three dramatic nominees that could split the vote — “The Square,” “The Act of Killing” and “Dirty Wars” — and a light-hearted contender — “20 Feet from Stardom” — that campaigned more than any other doc in recent memory. (The fifth nominee, “Cutie and the Boxer,” should just feel lucky they were invited to the Oscar party.) Gold Derby’s Experts, Editors and many Users are also going with “20 Feet from Stardom,” so there’s safety in numbers with this prediction.

Current prediction:Just Before Losing Everything
Former prediction:The Voorman Problem
Why the change? I was following the herd mentality for the three short film races, and while Best Documentary Short and Best Animated Short seem to be locked up, there was an odd disconnect when it came to this category. A lot of people were going with “The Voorman Problem,” some were sucking up to “Helium,” a few were picking “Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me),” while others were predicting “Just Before Losing Everything.” I did a quick Google search and read reviews of people who’d seen all five nominees. The consensus seems to be that “Just Before Losing Everything” is the best, so I immediately switched my vote.

Those are my last-minute Oscar changes. What are yours? Sound off in the comments section below, then vote for Best Actor using our easy drag-and-drop menu.

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